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What is the worst wedding reception dinner you've ever had?

I've had some pretty bad stuff at receptions, and I've had some good stuff, too. But tell us about the worst meal you've ever choked down on someone's big day?

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  1. Cash bar with one's choice of three types of Hallowe'en bag-size potato chips that kept people "entertained" for the 5 or so hours while the couple took their photos. Then a buffet table of finger sandwiches (egg salad, ham salad, tuna salad, vegetarian), potato salad and coleslaw, with some kind of white cake that I didn't go for.

    For the worst ambiance, there was another event where the bridal party was piped in to the theme from the Godfather because the DJ friend of the bride was told that the groom was Italian and he thought it would be nice. The bride had elected for a nouvelle cuisine dinner and since the groom's invitees were expecting an Italian one, I spent most of my time watching the strangers at my table refuse every single course until the dessert hit, when the lightbulb came on and they realized there would be no other food.

    89 Replies
    1. re: wattacetti

      My father wants us to dance to the theme from the Godfather. I am opposed. I was trying to find another way to use it to make him happy.

      Also I am concerned my guests will expect the whole Italian thing but his family is from Central PA and only half my family is Italian. The best we can do with our venue is an antipasto display at cocktail hour and an Italian cookie tray at dessert. Now after reading this I am having heart palpitations that we will be tacky and also have a bunch of starving Italians who will be looking for pasta and Italian wedding soup etc. :(

      1. re: melpy

        If your Italian relatives have been to a PA wedding before, they probably know they won't be in for a 7 course meal. The half-Italian weddings I've attended in PA have included a small insalata mista, a very small plate of pasta with a very plain tomato sauce,choice of chicken, beef or veg main plus the cookie tray. At least your relatives can fill up on cookies if they don't get enough to eat!

        After attending close to a dozen Greek and Italian weddings in Montreal and Toronto, which often have an antipasto bar (and sometimes a risotto bar), 5-7 courses, a dessert buffet and a midnight snack, the simplified, relatively light PA version came as a surprise!

        I've learned to be careful not to overindulge when it comes to the PA cookie tray...those cookies can quickly lead to an awful bellyache!

        1. re: prima

          They have never been to any PA wedding and we are doing a CT style cookie tray not a PA one (I wish!). Our venue will serve salad (no Italian options) and the filet and crab cake with roasted potato. Honestly I think my parents are mostly catering to their MD friends rather than either the PA or CT family members. PA would have been chicken or ham with chicken gravy, mashed potatoes, baked corn, macaroni and cheese with chocolate cake with PB icing for dessert. I am ok with this in between compromise.

          1. re: melpy

            I can't see any one complaining about filet and crab cake! The most important thing to remember about wedding planning is you can. Not. Please. Everyone. Go with what makes you and whoever is paying the happiest, that's what matters.

            1. re: melpy

              Your wedding will be great. The Central PA guests will be tickled beyond belief about the filet and probably the crab cake as well. Even my "Dutchy-est" of relatives liked a good crab.

              1. re: cleobeach

                Oh, dear g-d. A sweet young relative around York has opted for an outdoor wedding on an August afternoon . She tells me some friends of theirs who have a Mexican resto are doing the reception food, but it appears it will all be outside. At least I probably won't be faced w/ chicken w/ yellow stuff and as a female the dollar dance will pass me by.

                Here in STL, the wedding receptions still often feature the duck dance and, for certain folks, what's pronounced muskacholly. (That's mostaccioli - but they usually use penne and call it by the old name.)

                1. re: lemons

                  At one time, you were not legally married in St. Louis unless you had "muskacholly"! I have to read this list because someone probably has my wedding as the worst food they've ever had. We were young and the idea was the party and the food a secondary consideration and we were paying for it ourselves. It was catered and just to get a glimpse it did feature muskacholly and ....canned cole slaw. Need I say more? I would be aghast now. Oddly i did have the idea of having sugared real violets on the cake with an antique bride and groom on top. Our whole wedding was a hoot when we look back. Our photog was very tiny so all our picture are looking uo. My mother was so afraid if we had liquor that some of our guest would get out of line. It turned out it was our family that did- my dad's cousin got drunk and lost his teeth in the parking lot. Everybody had a great time though and we are happily married 33 years later.

                  1. re: wekick

                    Now you have to relate the tale of how your drunk cousin lost his teeth in the parking lot!

                    1. re: wekick

                      lemons and wekick - I look forward to the "muskacholly" and am disappointed when it's not there. I went to 2 weddings in STL this summer and one was a solid Southside/Affton couple. nope. nada. I understood why it wasn't at the much smaller hipster one in a loft downtown, but at the banquet hall off Gravois? I really was craving some.

                    2. re: lemons

                      lemons - the duck dance? I remember the old 'Bunny Hop' especially if it was used to form the line for a buffet service. I last saw that in 1975. as a kid I loved it and for the older crowd, it 1. wore out/diverted the kids a bit before eating and 2. was a source of nostalgia for the folks that took the riverboat dance cruises.

                      1. re: hill food

                        Sure, on the Admiral! Duck dance came later, apparently - I returned to St. Louis for good in '72 and it seemed ensconced by then. I think this is why Chuck Edwards has the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill, and wonder if it's r/t Chuck Berry and his trademark bent-knee travelling with his guitar.

                        1. re: lemons

                          oh the Duck Room is most definitely named for Berry, and I knew of his stage move, just never heard of it outside of that context (except on a matrimonial poultry related note: the "Chicken Dance")

              2. re: melpy

                Your father amuses me. If he has his heart set on the song, do it for the dance with father-of-the-bride and tell him you are tellling the guests it is his wish - and then dance and enjoy it. It will make for a funny memory later.

                I am not from PA. Do people expect weddings to serve food from their heritage?

                If something seems tacky that is not directly related to your parents' special requests - just don't do it. Brides have enough to worry about and you should be enjoying the process AND the final product.

                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                  Born and raise PA German chiming in on Sal's question about heritage and wedding food - yes, i would say generations old than me (I am 40yo) do expect to find "their type" of food at a wedding reception whether it is the "Dutch" foods of the farming area or the Italian or Polish foods from the coal regions.

                  The wedding receptions I knew for the first 23 some years of my life were always buffet style in the church basement (for the non-drinking families) or fire hall social rooms (for the beer and whiskey sour families.). Cash bars were the norm and not unexpected even today.

                  Worst wedding food, which is still a PA standard, stuffed chicken breast covered in yellow gravy. At a wedding last summer, it had the added horror if being served half raw.

                  The first wedding Mr. CB attended with me had the "toast" served in those tiny Dixie cups people keep in their bathroom to rinse after tooth brushing. Not champagne but warm sparkling cider. There was booze but only the wedding party was allowed to drink it and drink it they did. The groomsmen got spectacularly drunk while the rest of us resented our Dixie cups.

                    1. re: cleobeach

                      First, just to get it out of the way, there would be a swiftly put together rebellion at any wedding I have ever been to if the bride and groom were enjoying great liquor and the rest were stuck there drinking 2 buck chuck from a dixie cup. Liquor is required if you are going to make people sit thru a wedding and crap food. Pay/ no pay - meh I don't care.

                      OK that out of the way -

                      Thank you for answering the PA heritage food question. I got to wondering what darn heritage is stuck with chicken in yellow gravy... The island of elementary cafeteria I think. So glad we escaped from there! I would love to go to a wedding where they served their foods from their background. So much better than serving food that means nothing except checking the box and getting on with it.

                      I need to go make some friends in PA!

                    2. re: Sal Vanilla

                      I've been attended a lot of family weddings in western PA. Most of the weddings in the 70s, 80s and 90s had Euro comfort foods, served buffet or family style,such as kielbasa, cabbage rolls, chicken schnitzel, etc, often prepared by women's auxiliary groups at church halls. Some of the more recent family weddings I've attended, where the bride and groom are part Italian American, or completely Italian American, have had Italian food. At other recent family weddings, without an Italian connection, the mains have been plainer foods like roast beef and grilled chicken breasts, and the cultural background of the family might be found in the appetizer selection or at the cookie table. Had some great baklava at a recent Pittsburgh cookie table!

                      1. re: prima

                        PA is a darned ambrosial melting pot.

                        Chicken schnitzel? Is that breaded friend chicken cutlet or something else entirely?

                        There are still women's auxiliary groups and the cook for weddings? I am so intrigued by these things. I love that.

                        1. re: Sal Vanilla

                          The ladies aux also prepares food for funerals. It seems like I spent my entire childhood in the church basement, surrounded by the L.C.W.

                          We attended a Mennonite wedding a few years go. In that church, the young friends of the bride and groom take care of the food and serving (family style).

                          1. re: cleobeach

                            Seems to me that is the way to have a wedding. Friends coming and participating and celebrating.

                          2. re: Sal Vanilla

                            Yep, breaded chicken cutlet. Chicken parm at most of the PA Italian weddings.

                            I much prefer the homestyle comfort food approach. One memorable wedding I attended in California was Greek/Mexican. The families on both sides provided all the food.

                            At a recent wedding I attended in Boston, the Cdn bride had the caterer make perogies as an appetizer, as a nod to her grandmother who was from the Prairies. Turns out the caterer used his own family's recipe, which was even better tasting than my family's recipe. :-)

                          3. re: prima

                            We are attending a wedding next month in Bethlehem PA (is that Allentown area?) I will be sure to report back on the menu and drinking.

                              1. re: cleobeach

                                I've been to dozens of PA weddings, but I've only seen the dollar dance in upstate NY!

                                1. re: prima

                                  I saw a dollar dance at just one wedding, in Towson, MD. My cousin, the bride’s mother, was having kittens she was so angry with her daughter for doing it.

                                  1. re: prima

                                    We saw it!! At a different wedding than I originally posted about. In the Pittsburg area. About 1 hr out. I had no idea what the hell it was and neither The Husband. He went with it. I was like, really?? Can we leave now?? Bad enough I spent the whole weekend alone ( including where I was seated) b/c he was in the wedding party and I wasn't. I drove to the ceremony and reception alone. I went to everything alone. Sat alone. super!

                                  2. re: cleobeach

                                    Stuffed chicken in yellow gravy and dollar dances. Oh, yes - I remember that from several weddings I attended while living in central PA (Lewisburg & Montoursville). The chicken was bleah, and the dollar dance was a WTF moment.

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      OK now I have to go look up dollar dance. I am sure what is in my mind is not what it is. I have an unhealthy imagination.

                                      1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                        A dollar dance is sort of what you are imaging Sal, paying money to get close to a lady!

                                        I don't know the exact origins of the dollar dance but they are common in my area of PA. It is a time during the wedding where people pay money (a dollar or more) in return for a shot of liquor or a pack of gum and a chance to dance with the bride or groom.

                                        Supporters of the dollar dance will say it is a way for the bride and groom to talk to everyone one on one.

                                        Detractors of the dollar dance view it as a money grab.

                                          1. re: cleobeach

                                            cleo - you got lucky, the time I saw it (and participated) there was no shot, no dance, no chat, we were just invited to pin dollars to the dress. never got a thank you note for the proper wedding gift that I couldn't really afford (and I am VERY slack about the better late than never rule on those) the bride was from a proper Southern US family, groom was a very enterprising young man from the Balkans. both good people really. the marriage didn't last.

                                            1. re: hill food

                                              I have heard of the pinning money on the dress thing in my area but haven't actually seen it. Is it a Eastern European tradition?

                                              1. re: cleobeach

                                                I assume it was part of his family's tradition (Serbian I think)

                                            2. re: cleobeach

                                              I have seen a variant where the money is stuffed down the bosom of the bride by the man dancing with her. Are all dollar dances like that?

                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                Not the dollar dances I see. The bridesmaids collect the money. I have seen elaborate, handmade aprons, satin bags as well as plain baskets.

                                                But occasionally, like at my wedding, some men of a certain age may lose their manners and go for the bodice.

                                                1. re: cleobeach

                                                  We are talking about food...not money or gifts...right?

                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                            That's where I'm going for the wedding in June, to Chambersburg, PA. It's where the groom is from, so I don't know how many official PA wedding customs will be upheld.

                                            I don't know if the chicken will be served in yellow gravy or not. I ordered ratatouille in phyllo, in any case.

                                            1. re: Jay F

                                              Ratatouille in phyllo? I can't imagine what the guests at the weddings I attended in the mid-80s would have thought at that entree offering. Mostly, I suspect, it would be "where's the meat?"

                                              I think you've made a wise choice, Jay F. :-)

                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                My father's family is from that part of Pennsylvania. All the weddings I've been to in the area have been standard WASPy weddings or plain weddings serving traditional PA Dutch fare. Nothing unusual, but you'll probably get the chicken in yellow gravy either way.

                                                It will really come down to how working class the groom's family is, I suppose, before you start seeing dollar dances.

                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                  Haha! I bet there will be yellow gravy. My fiancé works in C-burg. We had one rule when we agreed to the PA wedding, no farther west than Carlisle (where we live). Ours is in Harrisburg.

                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                    Where in town are you doing it, melpy?

                                                    1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                      Milestone on the River, they use JDK catering exclusively.

                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                        Cool- I'd not seen this place before. Well, I know there are a few months, but I'd love to hear about it afterward! And congratulations!

                                                        1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                          They have just teamed up with JDK and had only done a few events previously. The newest owners were mostly renovating last year I believe.

                                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                                  The first and only time I saw the dollar dance, I couldn't believe they'd be asking for money, having the MOH standing on the dance floor, collecting the money in a pillow case, when we had already made out a cheque as a gift, and driven about 8 hours out of our way to share their special day. I didn't realize it was a regional thing until this thread. I had thought it was a cheesy tradition from the bride's side. Lol.

                                                  There are some other money dances out there, too. Traditionally, at Cypriot weddings, money gets pinned to the bride's dress. Pretty sure there's also a Ukrainian money dance, too.

                                                3. re: cleobeach

                                                  Our niece got married last year on a shoestring budget. We provided the entree for 200 guests at the reception. Individually made shepherd's pies, potato wedges and salad. Other family members provided other elements of the meal. The bride's dad could have easily afforded to pay for the food and more but he was still bitter over his divorce from the MOB so only paid for the rental of the facility and the dress, knowing we would all pitch in to make it wonderful. Needless to say, when he started the dollar dance for both bride and groom and went around pressuring people to "dig deep " a few of us weren't so amused.

                                                  1. re: cleobeach

                                                    ah, the dollar dance! My sister and BIL had one - he's got this HUGE Italian Polish family so it was a "MUST" and a huge success. and the food was terrific - a local italian joint that did a lot of weddings in those days.

                                                    my former best friend and her hubby heard about the dollar dance and decided to try it - they wanted the $$$ - unfortunately, not a tradition in their families so it was a huge flop. my hubby paid $5 to dance with the groom. LOL. that wedding also had bad food and an alcohol-related rage incident.

                                                    1. re: jujuthomas

                                                      ah, the dollar dance! My sister and BIL had one - he's got this HUGE Italian Polish family so it was a "MUST"
                                                      --------------------------------------------------------

                                                      It certainly is a must in the type of family you describe, who, in my opinion, throw the BEST PA weddings, hands down.

                                                      We were at a fantastic Italian wedding 10 years ago and many of the out of town guests (college friends of the couple) were completely perplexed by the concept and did not want to participate. (totally their choice, no pressure was given)

                                                      1. re: jujuthomas

                                                        PLEASE elaborate on the alcohol related rage incident!

                                                        1. re: schrutefarms

                                                          Count me in as interested! There is nothing like weddings (and funerals) to bring out the worst in people. Add booze to the mix and stand back.

                                                          1. re: cleobeach

                                                            I once witnessed a VERY drunken fight between the bride and groom the night before the wedding (in Vegas, natch), complete with red-faced screaming, tears, and near assault. I laid in my hotel room comfortably watching a movie the next morning, waiting for a call that the wedding was off. It wasn't, and 13 years later, they're still married. Go figure.

                                                            1. re: schrutefarms

                                                              I watched the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom get into a fist fight on the wedding day! That was awkward.

                                                                1. re: wattacetti

                                                                  Sadly, it was years before video came on the scene- mid-1970s.

                                                            2. re: cleobeach

                                                              ok...
                                                              so it all started the night before with an open bar rehearsal dinner, to which EVERYONE invited to the wedding was invited. This included the groom's paramedic friends - who were a hard partying bunch. The bride was a partying kind of girl, and continued to drink with several of the wedding party and their friends long into the night.
                                                              the bride sobered up (finally) at the back of the church that afternoon as the wedding march started and wove her way down the aisle to marry her equally hungover man. Cut to the reception where the father of the bride found out her pre-wedding condition and TOTALLY lost it - in the direction of 2-3 of the paramedic friends. He blamed them for his daughter's condition - because he just couldn't imagine that she would get drunk on purpose. He kicked them out of the reception... which p*ssed of most of the young people in the room, and all the rest of the paramedic friends, including the groom, who had to be retrieved from the secondary party they started up in the hotel bar.

                                                              as far as I know, they are still married, it's been about 18 years since this incident. We lost touch - there were a lot of reasons, but it's hard to respect folks who can't take responsibility for their own actions.

                                                              1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                Your story quickly reminds me of countless bachelor/bachelorette parties back in the day of over indulgence when the timing of such parties were scheduled way too close to the day of the wedding. Bruises and scabs still healing, hurt feelings still fresh and some couples even deciding NOT to marry.

                                                                With all the commentary we've enjoyed on cash bars and guests needing to drink @ weddings...you have to also wonder why some brides & grooms need to get lit before and after the I do's....

                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                  <you have to also wonder why some brides & grooms need to get lit before and after the I do's>

                                                                  I dunno... nerves? Immaturity? maybe both? DH and I waited a few years before we got married - we were both 30 by the time we got it done. We had fun the night before, had fun the night of but were not in terrible condition. We were also not nervous, because we knew we were ready. This week is our 15 yr anniversary! :)

                                                                  1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                    Congratulations! I wasn't judging as much as balancing out the discussion in that both the host & guest perspective can be appreciated. I've been married to the same guy a long time. In our den of thieves there's 2nd, 3rd marriages common. Lots of widows and widowers living the 2nd chapter with partners as common law. Even been to a few common law "anniversary" parties. So far none of our children have married or have kids of their own. Hill & I look forward to that chapter...but for now-we've enjoyed the heck out of all the celebrations we attend for those we care about.

                                                                    I think celebrations of any kind are a great opportunity to experience joy....laughs....humanity.

                                                                  2. re: HillJ

                                                                    I was just reminded of another (drunken) incident...

                                                                    A girlfriend of mine was marrying her guy of many years, they already had a two year old. They did the justice of the peace with a big party after. Her (wealthy and extremely pompous) brand new hubby (who we already knew had alcohol issues, which later became major drug issues) announced to anyone within earshot "Never get married and never have children!" While his two year old was present. At his wedding reception. Needless to say, that guy turned out to be the biggest D-Bag known to mankind, the marriage unraveled within 2 years, and my (7 months pregnant) friend and their son had to move into her Moms because their house was in his name. Oh, and the wedding credit card was in hers. And she's still paying it off three years later with no help from her now ex-husband.

                                                                    1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                      Oh that's way more than "I was just reminded of another (drunken) incident..." isn't it. A dozen follow up questions just went off in my head...but I wouldn't dare ask.

                                                                      wow :*(

                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                        Oh, please, ask away. Wasn't my husband :) The good thing is, my friend was left with two beautiful, healthy kids, and now that she's healing, she's realizing how much better off she is without him.

                                                                        1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                          I'm afraid my questions would be off topic. But hearing you say she realizes how much better off she is today is really all that's important.

                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                            Well, to keep it on-topic, I should mention that the venue was a super fancy hotel, the open bars were flowing, and the food was terrific!!

                                                                      2. re: schrutefarms

                                                                        Oh. Terrible.

                                                                        On a much less horrendous level and still within the keeping of food at wedding receptions my husband told me that when his brother was a cook at FatBoys (a BBQ place that I think is out of biz) he catered a wedding (with Fatboys BBQ). Hubs helped him haul the coolers of food to the venue. So they got everything set up and people were milling around waiting for the food when a man stood up on one of the tables to make a toast and with everyone listening his toast was something like "To Tony and his fat girl and the fatboy BBQ! Let's dig in".

                                                                        No punches, just stunned silence and some snickering.

                                                                        The BBQ was pretty good at Fatboys.

                                                                        1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                          Oh. My. God.

                                                                          At least the BBQ was good!

                                                                    2. re: jujuthomas

                                                                      Ah prewedding condition. 50 years ago words said in hushed tones and with smirkiness about the audacity of wearing white. Now it is drunk brides and fist hurling papas.

                                                                      And the food wasn't even good.

                                                                      Hurumph on the whole thing.

                                                                      I had a slight hangover at my own wedding. I started a loathsome trend I guess. Badgirl trailblazing! I claim it!

                                                                    3. re: cleobeach

                                                                      My gosh truer words have not been spoken!

                                                                  3. re: jujuthomas

                                                                    I sense I would adore your husband and obvs the person who married him.

                                                                    I looked up wedding dollar dances last night. It is done all over the place and yet it has eluded me. Or I it.

                                                                    I would have done it in the version of the bride wearing an apron. I have some lovely ones that I am always trying to show off where there is no red sauce involved.

                                                                  4. re: cleobeach

                                                                    We will NOT be doing a dollar dance. Although my cousin in CT did have one. Both he and the bride danced. Makes me feel a little like an escort.

                                                                    1. re: cleobeach

                                                                      All the Scranton area weddings I've been to had it.

                                                                    2. re: coll

                                                                      My report: No dollar dance. Very classy wedding, ceremony in a cathedral on Lehigh U campus, reception at the groom's grandfather's farm where generations of family have also celebrated the occasion. Normal hor d'oevres including sushi. Hand carved steak and grilled chicken cutlets with some decent sides including asparagus. At least six different cakes for dessert, all on the "gourmet" side. Decent open bar. Worth the drive. Sorry if I disappointed anyone! ;-)

                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                        A gem like this one can help make up for the other bombs you've attended. :-)

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          Yes, I haven't mentioned a couple of them since they were close family members. But that was long ago and far away, I've since recovered.

                                                                          Everyone laughed at me, but after reading these posts before leaving for PA, I packed a tuna fish and an egg salad sandwich, just in case.

                                                                          One other wedding that comes to mind, I don't remember the food exactly but I knew the exact cost. Because our friend, the mother of the bride, called to announce it to me. It was more than the usual spread at the time. I knew she was telling me that was the amount expected as a gift, if not more, but I gave the couple what I could afford and no more. Whatever the usual amount was back in the 1980s. No internet back then, but her thank you card dripped with sarcasm "thank you for your GENEROUS gift". As seems to be the case in this kind of scenario, they divorced three months later.

                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                            Wait. They divorced THREE MONTHS after the wedding? Geezus.

                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              I know, a world record. They moved into the groom's mothers house, even though she had plenty of money through various trust funds, and they didn't stop fighting for a minute. But I already knew at the wedding, they picked her up on the chair (just looked it up, the Hora chair) and she started screaming bloody murder like a lunatic. High strung doesn't begin to describe it!

                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                My friend's brother and his now-ex wife split up two weeks after the (very ostentatious, very expensive) wedding. My friend and I admittedly had placed bets on how long (or short) of a marriage it would be, but neither of us were even close! The would-be wife had never lived away from home in all her 24 years, and decided she'd rather go back to living with her parents because she liked it more. Divorce was granted one year and two weeks after the wedding!

                                                                                1. re: JulesNoctambule

                                                                                  Now that you mention it, our neighbors' daughter growing up applied for a divorce during their honeymoon, less than one week; but he knocked her through a sliding glass door wherever it was they were staying. Oh well.

                                                                                2. re: coll

                                                                                  coll - I always wanted to be part of the chair dance, I've had to skip those weddings due to work/school obligations and have always regretted it.

                                                                                  Lutherans don't seem to do it that I've ever noticed. looks like fun.

                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                    sorry, coll, the chair dance and the Hora are two entirely different dances.

                                                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                      I have no idea, thanks for the info. This is what I saw when I searched for a name http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=t...

                                                                    3. re: melpy

                                                                      Is the menu such that you can have an entree choice to check off on the rsvp card? Choosing between three non-Italian main dishes should be a big hint of what to expect!

                                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                                        No, everyone gets a dual entree unless I specify vegetarian, double meat or double crab (a few dietary restrictions).

                                                                      2. re: melpy

                                                                        Really? Your father wants to dance to the theme of the Godfather? I'd go with Sal Vanilla's suggestion if he's really set on it.

                                                                        The groom and his family in my anecdote were actually appalled that this DJ thought it was a kind reflection on their heritage.

                                                                        1. re: wattacetti

                                                                          We had actual mob connections and the men are a little obsessed with the whole genre of fiction spawned from it. I am a fan as well but I'm mostly pleased we got out of all that and think of it more as a reminder of how far we have come.

                                                                          1. re: melpy

                                                                            if it's not too late, maybe something nice from Nino Rota (the guy who did a lot of Fellini's music) instead.

                                                                        2. re: melpy

                                                                          From my long-ago DJ days, I remember an album I had to bring to every wedding, and that would be requested more often than you might think: "The Godfather Weding Album", which featured the wedding theme from the movie and 11 other Italian-American romantic classics. If the happy couple didn't find it offensive, I found it perfect for the setting.

                                                                          Also, a reception dinner I expected little from (was I surprised) - Knights of Columbus hall in a downscale neighborhood, ugly cinderblock building, decor from K-Mart ... then the little old Italian ladies brought out the food (like they obviously had done for a hundred other weddings): eggplant parm, lasagne, the expected staples, but every item homemade by grandmas who could cook! Wonderful!

                                                                          1. Ready?? 10 yrs ago, we are invited to a wedding in Philly. It's also the husband's 30th birthday. It's an old friend of the husband's. We make a res for the weekend at the Ritz and upon the weekend, off we go. Being not familiar w/ Philly, we show the address on the invite to the concierge. His face falls. He offers to send us in the hotel car. He says, maybe you don't want to be alone there.
                                                                            We arrive in our own car, which the husband is now skeptical to park b/c perhaps it won't be there when we return. He gives a kid on the street a few bucks to "watch the car". I laugh my ass off. We are dressed as if going to a casual wedding in the NY area. The kid laughs too.
                                                                            We walk into the "hall" for lack of a better word, and must go down a steep flight of dark stairs to a large room where there is a pole in the middle of the dance floor and mirrors on the ceiling. Not kidding.
                                                                            The cocktail hour is a cash bar in a side room off the " pole room". There are plates of cheese and crackers on the bar. It's dim, but we notice things moving on the bar. It's roaches. Awesome. The husband warns me to touch, eat and drink nothing. We brush off as we leave the bar room ASAP.
                                                                            Not sure what to do, as dinner is still not served after 2.5 hours. The wedding party shows up 1 hr late for the reception and completely trashed.
                                                                            The DJ calls tables up for the buffet ( ??!!) finally and we peer into nasty tins on sternos with crusty well-overheated food. We both agree- DO NOT EAT. Tins of Italian "classics" like chicken park, chicken francese, sausage and peppers and some things that one could identify in brown sauce. Meat? I don't know.
                                                                            So we ate nothing...we brushed off as best we could. Gave our lovely gift as the bride came around to "collect".
                                                                            When we got back to the hotel, we undressed in the hall outside our door, took turns passing each other robes and bagging up our clothes in plastic bags to prevent roaches ( or anything else ) from getting into the rest of our stuff.
                                                                            It goes down as the most vile function I have ever been to. EVER.
                                                                            I won't even describe the bathroom sitch to you. Putrid.

                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                            1. re: MRS

                                                                              Awesome story! As a former caterer and wedding planner (very high-end Puget Sound events)... I take a certain, well, glee in these stories:) Sorry :)!

                                                                              1. re: MRS

                                                                                Wow! You win! I don't think I would have been able to stay as long as you did. I would have said, "so sorry, here's our present and best wishes to you, but I'm not well and must leave."

                                                                                What I don't understand is why people who can't afford nice food don't just have an early afternoon wedding and serve cake and punch. It's far better to have a reception like this than to serve inedible food. Presumably, people are there to see the couple get married, not to stuff their faces.

                                                                                1. re: Isolda

                                                                                  Sometimes I wonder if the bad food is more the fault of the caterer. Like.... the food they serve at the tasting is miles ahead of what is actually served at the event itself. They know they can get away with it because the hosts would be between a rock and a hard place.

                                                                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                    This was the case at my sister's wedding, I think - they had a really lovely reception at a nice hotel, and spared no expense on food or drink. The hors d'oeuvres served during the cocktail hour were wonderful, but the dinner itself was mediocre and the cake (provided by the hotel caterer, not a separate bakery) was EXECRABLE. I was surprised, because I knew my sister had done a tasting and was pleased with everything - and cake is probably her favorite food in the world, so I know she would not have settled in that department! I actually asked her about the cake afterwards and she said the cake they had at the tasting was 100 times better, and that the food overall was a lot better as well. Perhaps it's the nature of the beast when you're serving 250 people instead of two.

                                                                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                      When my stepdaughter got married in 2010, the venue we used did a great job with the tasting. They hold tastings several times a year and have 100 people for it, so that a couple can see how the food is done for an event and at the appropriate quantity.

                                                                                      The food at her wedding was very, very good.

                                                                                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                        That's a great way to do it. I love that they produced the food for the tasting en masse so there's no confusion/disapointment. If only other places would adopt that model.

                                                                                      2. re: juliejulez

                                                                                        This happens all the time, unfortunately. I've held many events where the catered food was nothing like what I had sampled at the tasting. The last one, from a major hotel, completely substituted out the dessert we had discussed, without any warning. Instead of berries and a trio of chocolate bites, it was some sort of strange pudding- with one raspberry.

                                                                                      1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                        honestly, I don't want to sound like a snob...but does anyone want to bring roaches from a wedding in their luggage?? Sorry!!

                                                                                    2. I have never had one that was intentionally bad, but we went to a wedding held outdoors in June in S. Florida. Guests enjoyed ample drinks while the wedding party had their photos done and probably other things because they were gone for a long time. So dinner buffet was held and held... by the time they were serving some of the items had spoiled and some were too drunk or starving to notice (or it tasted ok?). Later that night and into the next day (we were all staying at a resort(ish) place) everyone was vying for bathroom space and calling for extra TP.

                                                                                      The bride was pretty pissed. Everyone ruined her wedding.

                                                                                      I did not eat anything noxious because my dress was too tight as is was and I was sweating. Two things I am normally not grateful for.

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                        <<Two things I am normally not greatful for.>>
                                                                                        Holy cow is that funny.

                                                                                        1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                          SHE ruined her own wedding with bad planning......

                                                                                          1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                            Yep. No use trying to reason with a pissed bride. Also there is a show on now that apparently gives the green light to brides behaving badly. That cannot be a good augur for a marriage, much less society.

                                                                                            Sometimes people want to plan and control and not let things go with the flow. She is not a go with the flow sorta lady. Hubs is though. Maybe that is a good combo?

                                                                                          2. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                            That's too funny! Most of the weddings I've been to recently had a few snacks to tide people over while the pictures were being taken, then served the main food.

                                                                                            A few years ago, I was asked to put together a cookies and punch buffet for the guests while the wedding pics were being taken, because the caterers weren't set to serve for a couple of hours. I thought it was very weird at first, but it turned out to be a great idea. People shoveled down the sweets and ice cream punch at about 3:30, and remained very happy until the caterers started serving at 5. Of course it was a devout Methodist wedding (no booze except for some very bad champagne, which even I couldn't drink!), so maybe that was why no one got rude.

                                                                                          3. I remember one wedding where the food was so late to arrive, as we all sat around the pretty tables in the Parish Hall of a church, that somebody finally went out and brought back a lot of McDonald's fries and everybody was passing them around for half an hour before the caterer finally showed up with dinner.

                                                                                            1. I've been to some doozies, but the worst dinner...no dinner. Seriously. I think there was chips and salsa. Now that I think about it, that might have been a better dinner than some people have had :)

                                                                                              One thing I truly do not understand is a cash bar at weddings. You are throwing a party and these people are your guests. It's the equivalent of going to an adult cocktail party, only to have the hosts ask you for some money to chip in for the keg. When you're in high school, sure. But beyond that...?
                                                                                              I totally get how pricey weddings are. If you don't have the budget, cut down on the guests. Or go to the courthouse and throw a party. But the fact is all these people just got dressed up, found babysitters, travelled, and bought a gift, all to celebrate you. They shouldn't have to pay for their drinks too!
                                                                                              (BTW cutting the bar off at a certain time is completely understandable, though. After all, some people would drink all night on your dime, no problem. I would.) And also, this is just my personal opinion, obviously everyone has the right to do what they want on their day with their money. I guess I just feel that a wedding is more for the guests than anything-otherwise, wouldn't you just elope?

                                                                                              88 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                Honest question: would you prefer the hosts not make alcoholic drinks available at all if they can't afford to cover them? So water, soft drinks, coffee, tea, etc. would all be complimentary and there is no option for anything else, even if guests were willing to pay?

                                                                                                1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                  I wouldn't have a problem with paying for optional booze, but I think soft drinks should be complimentary.

                                                                                                  Couples could always cut costs by hosting a brunch, or a cocktail party, or a potluck (even with BYOW) instead of offering a dinner reception. I'd rather go to a BYOW potluck than a catered reception with rubber chicken and cash bar.

                                                                                                  1. re: prima

                                                                                                    TG for Prima's comment; please people - if you're planning a wedding (assuming + reception, or post wedding party that is the reception/party - which is mostly what we mean when we say 'wedding') - if you can't afford decent food/drink, etc. then get creative!

                                                                                                    Move your time of day so you don't have to provide a meal.. ask people to bring booze, communicate, collaborate, invent, get cool. Stuffy protocols that you 'have to follow' - and if you do, you can't afford and your reception sucks.... that is what these posts are all about.

                                                                                                    Sorry. There was a phase of my life when bride's asked me for the $$$$$$ reception on the $ budget. So tired of that - even in hindsight.....

                                                                                                    1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                      Totally agreed. I have written about my wedding reception here a couple times - mostly because it was small, delicious and done by my BIL. We saved a lot of money, had a lovely wedding/reception, went on a great honeymoon and had enough money to downpay on a house and did not go into debt. It is one day. You involve people you love, you don't act like a nutter control freak, you pick and choose things you adore and are meaningful to the couple and things fall into place.

                                                                                                      I'd much rather have a terrific lasagna and an interesting salad - maybe a couple apps while the pics are being taken, a cash bar or a beer.wine.soft drink - and the stress is gone - ish.

                                                                                                      1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                        I think asking people to bring booze is really shoddy. They're supposed to buy you a gift AND help underwrite the party?

                                                                                                        1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                          Yeah - there's nothing wrong with a dry wedding, or a restricted bar, or just beer and wine, or a set number of drink coupons, or just having a few bottles of wine for toasts on each table. But when you're hosting a wedding, to which people are often spending a lot to attend, *and* are expected to bring a gift, making it BYOB is just as tacky as charging for the food, or springing an unexpected potluck on your guests.

                                                                                                        2. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                          Agreed. We had a cocktail hour wedding reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres, including a panini station. We served champagne and lemonade for the nondrinkers - the champagne felt festive and celebratory, but we got volume discounts on buying cases of champagne, and weren't left with a bunch of half-full bottles of liquor. No seating charts, lots of mingling. Lots of people commented on how nice a wedding it was, and the groom and I even got to bed at a normal hour.

                                                                                                        3. re: prima

                                                                                                          That's what we did. We had to pay ourselves and found a fabulous restaurant where we were able to afford an amazing brunch (think smoked salmon, blintzes, etc in additional to the regular brunch items such as eggs, home fries, sausage, bacon, on and on) for the price we would have paid for a really crappy dinner. We had a mimosa punch, free beer and wine. Cash bar for everything else (except for my mom and dad).

                                                                                                          I also don't understand the whole party favor thing for the most part. Why spend all that money on something that's only going to get thrown away. My mother in law is an amazing baker and offered to make scones as our favors. At least people appreciated the snack afterwards. The only other favors I've liked were lotto tickets.

                                                                                                        4. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                          In situations like this, knowing in advance of attending a special event would be helpful. Has the coupled arranged for a cash bar, open bar with time limit-then cash bar, no alcohol provided at all, or a range of options in one night is good information for guests.

                                                                                                          It's not knowing or being "stuck" with a bill that's difficult, embarrassing and makes for awkward feelings after the fact. Even if immediate family attending doesn't mind, good friends and +1's might be put off or at worst unprepared to pay for beverages, food, etc depending on the situation.

                                                                                                          I think brides and grooms who "surprise" their guests are thoughtless.

                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                            Agree.
                                                                                                            Also, if a bride and groom have a party list B (dessert only, when party list A gets dinner and dessert), let the guests on party list B know they're only getting dessert. I attended a wedding for a friend from college, and it wasn't clear from the invite that I was only being offered dessert. Thank God I hadn't brought a plus 1 . On the positive side, this wedding invitation had thoughtfully included a plus 1, and I had contemplated bringing a date for a few weeks, but I chickened out, which worked out better in the long run. I was so embarrassed when I figured out what was going on. The MOG said- "Oh, you're the only dessert only guest who came". Then, the groom, my friend, said " I'm so sorry we couldn't include you at the dinner, but we had to limit our number of guests."

                                                                                                            The wedding reception was in Barrie, ON (almost 10 years ago), so what they were saying is that they didn't want to spend $40-50 on my meal (half of what a similar dinner would have cost in a bigger city, and significantly less than the value of my gift).

                                                                                                            What became clear was that the couple had only invited the groom's male friends and their SOs to the dinner. The groom's female friends were only being offered dessert, even though the wedding was 60 miles out of town, and I was the only female friend who had decided to attend. I'm pretty sure it was the bride's idea to place me on the B List because the groom seemed very uncomfortable when he greeted me.

                                                                                                            Lesson learned: Make out the cheque after you've determined whether the bride and groom will be offering you dinner. I had made out my cheque for my standard wedding amount. If I'd known they'd just be offering me dessert, I would've just sent a card and cheque in the mail, rather than getting dressed up and wasting gasoline.

                                                                                                            Etiquette books claim only guests and their SOs need to be included on invites, but it's a nice gesture to singletons to include a plus 1, if a couple can afford it, especially if everyone else at the wedding is arriving in pairs. Offering the +1 doesn't mean that the guest will exercise the option. As a singleton who has attended a couple dozen weddings stag, I think the option of bringing a date is more thoughtful approach. Sucks to be standing on the sidelines at a dance because you weren't invited to bring a date, especially when singles are in the minority at a wedding. I've attended a couple weddings where I was the only single over age 12, and another 2 weddings where there were a couple tables of single female guests, and no single male guests.

                                                                                                            One wedding I attended last year had one single guy (of 2 single guys at a 200 person wedding- the other single guy was seated with his elderly parents) at a table with 9 single women, and he ended up going home with the wedding planner, and stringing one of the single women along for a few weeks after the wedding. This scenario would have been less likely if the single women had been invited to bring plus 1s.

                                                                                                            Also, if you're a couple who is inviting family members to a wedding, and their adult children are also invited, splurge on invitations and stamps, and send the adult children their own individual invitation, rather than including the adult children's names on their parents' invitation.

                                                                                                            1. re: prima

                                                                                                              Wow! That scenario just blew my mind. Separate plans/menus for different people. Holy cow, I can't imagine it.

                                                                                                              Yeah, I'm sticking with the pet peeve of a lack of communication. I can accept just about any scenario (many of which occur last minute or due to unforeseen issues day of) because the traditions of weddings are all over the map today and guests will be asked to be super flexible a good deal of the time. But I'm not cool with a lack of communication. Wedding receptions wind up being a time when all the people in your life merge under one roof. Add in alcohol, weather, and food decisions, and , and, and...the best defense is great communication. Then I'll leave the event very happy for the couple and with a few stories to share.

                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                All sorts of innovative ways to save a buck!

                                                                                                                My friend's mother would describe that couple's approach as basse classe. ;-)

                                                                                                              2. re: prima

                                                                                                                Wow - in WHAT WORLD do people have one menu for a set of people and dessert only for others?

                                                                                                                I have never heard of such a thing here in Seattle.... crazy mean, scary, and in bad taste.

                                                                                                                Also, we don't have any tradition of giving 'check's' as gifts... people here register for gifts and you buy them a thing, unless it is a second marriage/later in life, when sometimes it is emu's pig's goat's you are buying through Heiffer Int'l in their name, or going to REI for the 'outdoors activity gift list' which is cool. Checks? ONLY from family....

                                                                                                                1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                  Many couples in the Toronto area (where I live), seem to prefer money or gift cards to gifts. I've even seen some brides request Costco gift cards!

                                                                                                                  One friend's husband expressed disappointment when he and his wife received gifts rather than money from some guests. After watching his reaction, I've tended to give money or money and a small gift.

                                                                                                                  In the Greek Canadian, Italian Canadian and some other cultural communities in Toronto and other parts of Canada, there are often registries for bridal showers that cover the appliances and housewares that would be common at most Canadian bridal registries, so the friends and family contribute money at the wedding, instead. As far as I understand, traditionally at least, the idea is for the wedding money to be used towards a downpayment on a house, rather than paying off credit card debts, etc. :-)

                                                                                                                  1. re: prima

                                                                                                                    My wife and I are Chinese, and traditionally that means money in lieu of gifts from all guests. Most Chinese-Americans (or -Canadians) will set up a registry for the non-Chinese guests as they either don't know or don't feel comfortable giving checks/cash. It's not even a hidden thing - a ornate ballot box is placed at the check-in table for the wedding cards stuffed with checks/cash. Even if you tell your Chinese relatives that you have a registry, it will be completely ignored and cash/checks will be given.

                                                                                                                    Many other Asian weddings I've been to (Vietnamese, Filipino) play lots of games during the reception involving the bride and groom pocketing lots and lots of money, all encouraged loudly by the wedding's MC or MOH. And of course the money dance here and there. This is in addition to the gift money received at the check-in table.

                                                                                                                    I used to run a wedding consulting business, so I've seen it all...some of the ugliest sides of humanity do surface, unfortunately...My most "Jerry! Jerry!" moments tend to surface from the most expensive venues, I'm surprised to find.

                                                                                                                    1. re: HungWeiLo

                                                                                                                      What is a Jerry Jerry moment?

                                                                                                                      How, generally speaking is the food at Chinese weddings? Big shabang or not?

                                                                                                                        1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                          Ah I know who that is. I have TV and pop culture gaps. I thought maybe it was Seinfeld. LOL

                                                                                                                        2. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                                                          I've been to a lot of Taiwanese weddings, and the food is ample and good. But there are tons of places that do nothing but wedding banquets, and they know what they're doing.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                                                            Yeah, Jerry Springer. Lots of bachelor/bachelorette parties gone way way bad...lots of opportunities for conflict now that things are so easily and mistakenly captured on digital media.

                                                                                                                            Chinese weddings traditionally would sit 8-10 guests in a big round table, serving 10-12 courses throughout the evening. Typically, it would be seafood-heavy as it is more likely to be expensive and shows off the wealth of the families being united. Things like lobster, abalone, expensive fish, shark fin soup, Peking duck, etc. are pretty standard (at least for the Cantonese which exemplifies this sort of extravagance in this arena).

                                                                                                                            Vietnamese weddings (and some Chinese ones) like to place a bottle of $$$$ hard liquor in the middle of the table as a show of wealth. This often conflicts with American liquor serving laws and it's quite humorous to see the hosts argue adamantly with the restaurant owners on this point.

                                                                                                                            1. re: HungWeiLo

                                                                                                                              Thank you very much for the description man (I believe) with a name that amuses me.

                                                                                                                              Funny that weddings so often are more about the expression of wealth. Universally.

                                                                                                                            2. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                                                              I went to a mixed Chinese ad American wedding on Long Island last year. They did it in a restaurant as it was on the smaller side as Chinese weddings go from my understanding. The food was served family style for hours. Speeches were long and food was still being served at 11 pm. I took notes on what we had:

                                                                                                                              Crab Rangoon, sesame shrimp, beef stick, veggie dumpling,

                                                                                                                              Spicy beef, pickle, noodle, hundred year egg

                                                                                                                              Seafood soup

                                                                                                                              Duck with pancake

                                                                                                                              Mixed veggie-mushroom, diakon, broccoli

                                                                                                                              Poultry with sea chips

                                                                                                                              Orange beef

                                                                                                                              Fried rice

                                                                                                                              Spicy shellfish

                                                                                                                              Sweet pork

                                                                                                                              Fish in a light sauce

                                                                                                                              A few tables of pickier Americans had the more typical Americanized food. I was at the adventurous table. Other guests got up and dance and some missed the best courses. Best food I ever had at a wedding I think. Wished we could have done something more unique for ours.

                                                                                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                Interesting. First marriage or beyond?

                                                                                                                                I was wondering later what the celebration might entail (if different) for subsequent marriages. Less elaborate - more subdued? Parents pay or adults are on their own?

                                                                                                                                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                                                                  This was a first marriage. I believe the bride's parents paid.

                                                                                                                          2. re: prima

                                                                                                                            At the Indian weddings I have been to, the bride and groom prefer cash. "no boxed gifts" on the invitation is a dead giveaway. Female cousins and sisters of the bride steal the groom's shoes and hold them until they are given money. We had an Indian wedding and reception and a Chinese banquet. The restaurant was incredible and made a seven course vegetarian dinner for my parents and their friends.

                                                                                                                          3. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                            Money for weddings does seem to be falling by the wayside, now that the internet is here. It used to be gifts at the shower, and money at the wedding. Dad usually played armed guard.

                                                                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                                                                              How interesting - I wonder if this is more of an east coast thing to give money at the wedding?

                                                                                                                              1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                I think it might be. Some friends (Born and raised NYers, Italian and Greek) got married in the west coast (where they were living) and I remember the grooms parents being confused at all the gifts, because they are more used to a bag of checks. Me, I grew up in SoCal, I don't think I've ever given anyone money, except when they've created a "honey fund" (i.e. a Paypal acct where people can donate for their honeymoon, which seems to be becoming more popular). It's always a gift off the registry. Money gifts here, at least from what I've experienced, are more for the parents to give the new couple.

                                                                                                                                1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                  I was just watching a show on Bravo about newlyweds, and a couple on long island, with a greek background, talked about how it's normal to receive lots of money at a wedding, they showed them opening all their envelopes after returning from their honeymoon. So I think it probably depends on the ethnic backgrounds of bride & groom vs location.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                    It is also not uncommon at a Greek wedding to do a "money dance". The newlyweds dance, and guests throw money at them, or onto the floor around them, At the end of the dance , someone sweeps it all up until the next money dance. I was "warned" about it ahead of time, so I was prepared with a number of crisp dollar bills. It did not phase me -- I am used to the old Pennsylvania money dance mentioned upstream.

                                                                                                                                    In PA, it is also not uncommon to give money as a gift. There is usually some sort of fancy big box with a slot in the top (like a mailbox)on a table somewhere at the reception into which you put your card with the money. Some event planners go so far as to have a fancy bird cage, with fake love birds, to hold the loot. Of course there is always the special "purse' that a bride can use to stash those cards as she makes her way from table to table during the reception.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                      I got to wear a special apron and lace doily type hat for my sister's dollar dance - fortunately for me a couple of his aunts were there to tell me how to run things. It was not a tradition in our family, but BOY did his relatives stuff that apron full!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                        The 1st wedding I referred to, the bride looked like she was trick or treating with her white bag, Imagine her surprise when we had a sizable box from Tiffany's. She said, " Oh!! I knew that box must be from you guys!! I'm keeping it no matter what!".

                                                                                                                                    2. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                      In my area (PA), money is the norm for wedding gifts. Not the rule but more common than gifts.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                        I would say that's true 80% of the time I've attended a wedding irregardless of where the couple is from. Not all couples go with a registry and not all couples NEED or want "stuff."

                                                                                                                                        The bridal magazine KNOT stated that guests have up to a year to gift a wedding couple. How many people wait that long I wonder?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                          I think another factor is people are generally getting married a little older now than in the past and/or are also living together (or at least on their own) prior to a wedding so they already have "stuff" I know I certainly had more stuff than I needed, which is why I had a very small registry.

                                                                                                                                          As I sit and think about it, I can think of only 4 weddings I attended in the past 20 years where the bride was still under her parents roof at the time of marriage.

                                                                                                                                          We are attending a wedding this summer and I was very surprised to see the couple had registered at three stores. I was surprised because they both owned and lived in their own homes for 20+ years so I assumed they have all their towel, sheets and teapot needs covered.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                            Cute, maybe they want new stuff! You make an excellent point about other factors.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                        It is expected that you give cash or a check here in NJ. Bridal registries are for the bridal shower gifts and $$ is for the wedding. Bringing gifts to the reception just isn't done.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Njchicaa

                                                                                                                                          in the midwest (my corner of it among certain families) if it's a large wedding, gifts are not brought to the reception, but rather shipped to the couple (if living together, or to the MOB if not) either ahead or within a reasonable amount of time after.

                                                                                                                                          weddings I've gone to in the NYC/NJ area, checks either brought or sent along seem to have become the standard.

                                                                                                                                          I like the send along method as the gift table always seemed a bit tacky and who wants to be assigned the task of standing guard and collecting them at the end? needless stress.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                          Ha! I thought requesting cash was more of a Lancaster, California redneck thing

                                                                                                                                          1. re: GreekChorus

                                                                                                                                            GC - oh one doesn't ask for $$, but if someone wonders 'whattaya suppose they'd want?' then it's just sort of casually spread around word-of-mouth by close friends cash might be preferred - but only when asked. and not directly of the couple.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                              I couldn't agree more. It was a second or third marriage for both and we had to drive eight hours and sit under 100 degree sun with no shade and stay out of the way of warring factions of blended families. It was a delight to place cash in the basket in the foyer.

                                                                                                                                    3. re: prima

                                                                                                                                      Holy mackerel. Just holy mackerel. Lucky you to have such an outrageous story to tell! Worth the price of admission!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: prima

                                                                                                                                        You were too nice. The b*tch in me would have turned around and left with the gift.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: prima

                                                                                                                                          I have NEVER heard of such a thing!! I am completely appalled!!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: prima

                                                                                                                                            I have never even heard of serving some guests dinner and others just dessert. If I'm on the dessert only list I'm either not going or leaving once I find out. Someone wants me to take the time to attend and bring a gift and they give one group dinner and another just dessert? See-ya..

                                                                                                                                            I've never even heard of anyone getting upset or annoyed at a cash bar. Totally new to me.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: prima

                                                                                                                                              I have NEVER heard of this. I have seen people invited to ceremony only but typically those were church weddings where the entire congregation was invited to watch the ceremony and then you had to be invited to the reception.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                              I worked at a restaurant once (I shall not name, it's a very popular restaurant here in L.A.) that closed for a private event, which was a birthday party with about 50 guests. $20 corkage, plated sit down dinner, the works. The idiot owner (who was really a piece of work) didn't work out the bill beforehand with the birthday girl. So the girl assumed the restaurant knew that everyone paid for themselves, the guests assumed that the bill was being taken care of by the birthday girl, and none of this was figured out until almost all the guests left. Needless to say, that was one pissed off birthday girl. What an uncomfortable night that turned out to be.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                                                                Holy crap, schrut. what a mess! It's not all that surprising when a lack of communication is the culprit. Why is it so difficult to talk about money, commitments and who's going to be responsible? Wow.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                  And I totally (in my head, obviously) sided with the birthday girl-a restaurant should work out the finances of any event beforehand. At least ask for a credit card to be on file. That girl ended up having the worst birthday party ever. (Of course, the girl probably should have mentioned to her guests that they would be paying for herself). Just a terrible lack of communication on both parts, but ultimately the restaurant should be to blame-after all, they are running a business. If I were, say, a carpenter, I probably wouldn't build a house for someone without knowing who was paying for it.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                                                                    Excellent points! And I'm surprised with a party even that size nothing was done to firm up payment. Crazy!

                                                                                                                                              2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                This happened to me at a recent wedding. The bar was open during cocktail hour but then switched to cash (with no announcement or prior warning). I went to the bar to get a drink, and....oh, right, $10. I had left my wallet in the room (only had a tiny handbag) and my partner was nowhere to be found, so I had to scout the room for someone I knew well enough to hit up for a quick loan.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                  That is embarrassing. That would have upset me.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                                                                                    It didn't upset me but I'm sure my friend's husband was initially surprised when I went up to him and asked "hey, feel like buying me a drink?" Luckily he has a sense of humor.

                                                                                                                                                    It's just one of those things that could have been communicated.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                    Ugh, the quick loan...man that really is the worst!

                                                                                                                                                2. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                                  I would gladly pay for drinks to watch the celebration of two people I love. Booze is one of the biggest expenses of throwing any kind of party, so I totally get it when people want to cut that expense out. But, and just personally speaking, I do think cash bar sucks-it's like saying to your guests, hey, come celebrate us, and bring us a gift, and if you have to travel then pay for that too, but we are going to make you buy your own wine. Sorry! I guess I just feel that if you are going to host any kind of event, then host it-all of it. I once dated someone who's parents were teetotalers. They used to have a big fancy Christmas party every year, but absolutely no booze was served or allowed in their house. They would hand back hostess gifts of wine to the guest that brought it, and wouldn't allow them to open it to enjoy for themselves. Not too many people had fun at those parties. Their excuse was "we don't drink, no one else needs to." Sure, no one needs to, but people want to. And a party, I feel, is for the guests. And if your guests have a crappy time, what was the point of it all?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                                                                    I'm still not sure I understand your preference then -- you said that if someone is going to host an event they should host all of it. So what if they hosted the entire event on the terms they could afford (i.e, non-alcoholic drinks paid for) and did not create a situation where guests had to pay for their own alcohol (i.e., did not have a cash bar option available). Would you prefer that over making the cash bar available?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                                      My preference is that everything is hosted. I would understand if someone didn't have the funds, but I don't have to like it. Personally, I couldn't see myself throwing any kind of party where the guests had to pay for anything. But again, that's just me. I'm sure some people don't care, but I've been to cash bar weddings where all the guests looked at each other like "Really?!?" And I know I'm thinking that too, especially when I just got a babysitter/hotel room/new outfit/bought a gift. It's just sort of tacky.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                                                                        ... I don't think my question is being understood, but seeing as how I don't actually care and it was just curiosity to begin with, I'll let it go. Thanks for the replies.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                                          Ahh! I re-read your question, and yes, I don't think I understood it the first time. And the answer is-I'm not sure :) I did go to a Southern Baptist wedding where absolutely no alcohol was served, and it was not welcome anywhere inside the venue. Since that's a religious preference it was understandable. I don't ever get drunk at weddings or anything, but I do enjoy a glass of wine or two, especially if dancing is involved. So yes, I guess I'd prefer a cash bar over nothing, so the option of getting a drink is there.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                                            I do think, Charmedgirl, people get your question - which really is an opinion - " you said that if someone is going to host an event they should host all of it. So what if they hosted the entire event on the terms they could afford (i.e, non-alcoholic drinks paid for) and did not create a situation where guests had to pay for their own alcohol (i.e., did not have a cash bar option available). Would you prefer that over making the cash bar available?"

                                                                                                                                                            I sense you perhaps have a wedding reception upcoming, where you don't think/can't pay for drinks for guests, and so wish to supply non-alcoholic drinks for guests and have a cash bar instead.

                                                                                                                                                            Make no mistake, it would be better to change your time of day, create a 'punch' which could be both with and a non-alcaholic - and a toast (sparkling wine), with less food, at a time of day (say, 3-5 pm reception) with only passed HD's, that would allow you to be both gracious to any guest whether drinker or not, and respect their time, commitment to your invitation, and the gift they will inevitably give you; which cost you should subtract (x guests) immediately from your budget. NO Shoot - recognize you must give generously to your celebration-guests as they are to you....

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                                              WOW. I'm sorry gingershelley, I say this without snark, your post made me laugh out loud. For real, not in that fake internet "LOL" way. I am so, so, so very far away from being about to be married (much to my mother's disappointment). When I said I was just curious I really meant it. And if you read the post directly above yours, schrutefarms WAS missing my question, but then did understand, and answered. It was nice of her to follow up again; I genuinely appreciate her indulging my curiosity. I promise you there was no agenda, and it WAS a question, NOT an opinion. Step away from the armchair psychology. :-)

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                                                                            I'm not a part of this conversation, but I'm going to answer you anyway, charmed. I agree with Schrute that I'd prefer everything is hosted. However, I would prefer to have the option to purchase alcohol than have none available at all.

                                                                                                                                                            If it is a cash bar though, it would be nice if there were at least a bottle or 2 of wine available on each table. That's another way to host a small portion of the booze without having to bankroll Uncle Eddie's single malt scotch addiction.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                                                                              A direct answer to the question, thank you hyacinthgirl! I find the diversity of opinion on this topic really interesting.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                                                                          I don't think someone morally opposed to alcohol should be forced to allow it at a party they are throwing. My future in laws are religiously opposed and would likely not attend an event with alcohol.

                                                                                                                                                          However my family is hosting the wedding so we will have open bar. We still haven't told the in laws yet. Yikes! I don't want to be there when he breaks it to them.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                                                                        I don't mind cash bars if non-alcoholic drinks are free. You can always bring in a flask and put the liquor in your free soda :) Weddings are so incredibly expensive, and in some cases, the couples feel family pressure to have the big affair when they would be happy with something small.

                                                                                                                                                        The last wedding I went to, beer (Coors and Coors Light, we are in Colorado and most of the guests were from Wyoming or Minnesota) and wine (a red and a white) were complimentary, along with sodas etc. Hard liquor and any beer or wine that the bar had on tap that wasn't Coors was cash. I thought that was a good setup.

                                                                                                                                                        Another wedding I went to had open bar for the first hour, but once dinner was served it turned to a cash bar.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                                          Excellent way to manage the bar within budget - good story JJ!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                                            We thought we needed to have open bar at our wedding but the manager (a friend of a friend) strongly encouraged us to do what she called a white bar, which was to offer vodka, gin and rum with the standard mixers and non-alcoholic options as well as two beer options and red and white wine. Her rational was that during an early afternoon wedding, we didn't need to offer a full bar.

                                                                                                                                                            It worked out perfectly, no complaints and it saved us a lot of money. The one thing we didn't anticipate was the requests for NA beer. Thankfully the staff was on the ball and dispatched someone to get a couple of six packs from the other bar.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                                                                          I got married three weeks ago. There was absolutely no way I would have my friends and family pay for their own drinks at my wedding. A good meal was also extremely important to me. I think things were successful on all fronts.

                                                                                                                                                          However, most of the weddings I have been to lately have been cash bars. Some of which I've had to start a credit card tab at because I didn't know ahead of time and didn't think I needed to bring much cash with me.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: salsailsa

                                                                                                                                                            I totally agree and congratulations on your marriage :).

                                                                                                                                                            I think I'd rather be married by the justice-of-the-peace rather than ask my guests to pay for their own drinks.
                                                                                                                                                            I cannot imagine going to a wedding and having to pay for my own. It's interesting, as I read these responses, that when I hosted an affair at my home a few months ago and I had 2 bars with liquor flowing...so many younger guests were surprised there was so much 'free' booze. I couldn't figure out why they were so happy until now, having read these posts.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                                                                            I totally agree with you, but I do think cash bars are a cultural thing. I'd never heard of them until I was in my mid-20s and met some people from Italian, Portuguese, etc. backgrounds. Prior to that, every wedding I'd ever been to was middle class Californian (let that wine flow freely), southern WASP and Cajun (my family), and upper class yankee (not enough food, but fabulous free booze), or middle to upper-class Jewish (great food and limited booze, but it was free).

                                                                                                                                                            So I think with different upbringings come different expectations of what is expected at a wedding.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                              I take exception to you classifying "Jewish" as ethnic as Cajun or Californian...not the same...Religious beliefs and ethnic diversity are two clearly different things...Perhaps Muslim, no booze, Roman catholic lots of wine?...get my point?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                                                                                                Well, WASP is also technically a religious moniker as well, and "Californian" is hardly an ethnicity. I think she was making cultural distinctions, and many Jews in my acquaintance are culturally Jewish but not particularly religious (it can also go the other way, of course), so I think it's valid to describe Jewish culture.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Savour

                                                                                                                                                                  Exactly. I wasn't classifying people, just pointing out that there are different types of cultures (geographic, religious, ethnic) and that that these cultures have different expectations. Sorry if I offended anyone.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                    You did not offend me, however I am Italian/Polish, and have many Portugese friends. The liquor flows. These are cultures that are not booze-shy.

                                                                                                                                                                    That said, this could also be because we are NY-ers, and culturaly speaking, the weddings are a little more extravagant here.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                As a "member of the tribe", I;ve never been to a function where the booze was limited. Food and drink up to the eyebrows is the general rule of thumb.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MRS

                                                                                                                                                                  +1

                                                                                                                                                                  I remember my cousin's stunned surprise when the caterer at my wedding wheeled out the Viennese table. He couldn't believe he was allowed to help himself to anything and everything he wanted. And that was *after* the cocktail hour and seated meal and *before* the cake was served. Oh yeah, open bar, too. My father, a non-drinker, wouldn't have it any other way. And I had a modest wedding by NY standards.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                                                                                    At our wedding, my father had to add extra this and extra that...only top shelf alcohol, the works. Including a man whose job is was to follow my FIL with a tray of his fave hors d'oeuvre. When the florist suggested special lights and such for the ballroom and chuppah, that was a "no". He said- its a hotel! it has lights already! But, anything his guests would consume- yes, yes!!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MRS

                                                                                                                                                                      Sounds like my father! He will pay anything when it comes to the food but he said go easy on flowers etc because who cares or remembers.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: MRS

                                                                                                                                                                    By limited, I mean that people didn't get smashed, not that the hosts didn't pour it freely. In my experience, Jewish weddings aren't as full of heavy drinkers as WASP and Cajun weddings.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                      I guess we don't attend the same kind of Jewish weddings!!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                        Why? Were you responding to isolda?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MRS

                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, sorry, I was responding to Isolda.

                                                                                                                                                                          The Jewish weddings I've been to are all about tophe alcohol

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                                            Interesting! The ones I've been to all had excellent food, but I felt weird having a second glass of wine.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                              Then you didn't come to mine! I took a tray of shots around to the guests like a cocktail waitress to encourage everyone to partake.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                oy vey!! ours was free flowing with a martini/drink ice lunge during cocktail hour and multiple bars in the ballroom during dinner and dancing

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                  God, you need to come East. Most weddings here are over flowing with booze. My dad haggled with me over the price of the band but then insisted a full open bar-nothing was off limits, You want a strawberry margarita? No problem. A double stoli frozen mudslide? Coming right up. Bottles of Moet on every table, high end whites and reds on there too. My husbands friends were getting so drunk we left the reception early. The stories we heard when we got back from our honeymoon?? Crazy!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                    Why would you feel weird about having a second glass of wine?

                                                                                                                                                                                    Jews coming together, along with guests who aren't Jewish, are all about celebrating with great food, wine and lots and lots of booze.